Teaching Beyond the Square is a nonprofit organization based in New York City. It was founded to fill a void that existed about the importance of early childhood education in our world today. Jane Racoosin, Director of Beginnings Nursery School, a school committed to children's learning through research and discovery, along with her teachers had qualitative evidence that this kind of learning, which promoted children’s curiosity and questioning, could be promoted outside of the four walls on East 16th Street.
As a result in its first year Teaching Beyond the Square was awarded the opportunity to host The Wonder of Learning Exhibit, a 7000 square foot traveling exhibit from the infant-toddler centers and preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The exhibit is made up of 6 sections which document the incredibly complex project work of the children and teachers in those schools. It has been traveling around the world since 2008. Mayor Bill DiBlasio opened the exhibit on January 16, 2015. It ran through May 2015 at The Williamsburg Northside School. It was made possible through the collaboration between parents, administrators, teachers and school communities who volunteered their time to host the exhibit and offer a series professional development events, in addition to creating the Natural Materials Atelier and Light & Shadow Atelier alongside the exhibit.
During the exhibit’s tenure in Brooklyn in 2015, 11,000 teachers, administrators, parents, children and city officials encountered this vision of young children. The energy throughout the exhibit and ateliers was palpable each week. It was heard in the discussions and questions about how this could change our current practices here in the U.S. and it was seen in the two ateliers which prompted diverse play and exploration. The conversations were varied and rich, ranging from shaking heads in disbelief and awe, to excitement at the first chance to return back to the classroom to implement change. There was also a great deal of confusion and many questions raised about how Americans and New Yorkers could begin to make this perspective of young children more valid in our communities.
It was after the exhibit that Teaching Beyond the Square’s commitment to continuing the conversation took hold. Since 2015, our coaches have consulted and supported with over 65 public and independent schools. We have provided 2,200 lbs of materials to students and the public through our Materials Center. We have hosted over 1,000 educators at our workshops, videochats and symposiums. We have individually effected over 200 classrooms where children encounter our work everyday.
We hope you will join us in making a difference in the critical years we have to educate our children. Look beyond the four walls at Teaching Beyond the Square.